Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
he Knitters may have taken 20 years to release their second album, which came out in 2005, but they're still intermittently out on the road in support of "Modern Sounds of The Knitters." And while the title is a joke on this side project for the brains behind X, The Knitters demonstrated again that they do not treat the effort as a joke.
"Modern Sounds" came out as the long-time-in-waiting successor to "Poor Little Critter on the Road." Individual members - John Doe, Exene Cervenka, DJ Bonebrake, Dave Alvin and Johnny Ray Bartel - got sidetracked by other projects for a long time. "Modern Sounds" was a strong album that emphasized more of a traditional country sound, while possessing a bit of an edge to the music.
The basic idea behind The Knitters is that Doe and Cervenka trade off lead vocals with Doe seemingly taking more of them. They play off each other well, which should come as no surprise after being together for about 30 years, including husband and wife for a stretch.
The Knitters mix it up between new songs and covers such as Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" and The Stanley Brothers' "Rank Stranger." X isn't all that far removed from the scene as country covers of "Burning House of Love" and "In This House That I Call Home" are included all to good effect.
Cervenka possesses an edgy look about her with dyed orange hair and an intensity that is in contrast to the easy going style of Doe, who joked around a decent amount.
Bonebrake propelled the music along time and again despite using only two snare drums and often brushes instead of drumsticks.
Alvin, who does no singing at all in The Knitters, was his usual ace self on guitar. At times, though, one would have wished that the sound got turned up a bit so he could have been more easily head because his playing tends to add much bite to the music. That is all to do with the sound mix and nothing to do with the stellar abilities of the guitarist.
After such a long break, it's good to see the individual Knitters take a break from X and other projects for awhile to concentrate on putting out their edgy brand of country. It's nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering, more like a night out for good fun. And that's what The Knitters delivered.